Mumbai buzz: Racecourse theme park | Largest BMC budget | Coastal Road opening and more…

And in other news in Mumbai: Citizens fast to protest for missing roads; Investigation on BMC funds allocation; Demolitions in Mira Road.

Turf club agrees to hand over 120 acres to BMC for a theme park

For years this possibility has been discussed and debated but finally the iconic Mahalaxmi Racecourse is set to have a theme park on its land. Out of 1718 members of the Royal Western India Turf Club, only 708 cast their vote in the extraordinary general meeting that was called for this purpose. “The proposal received 540 votes in favour and 168 against. In return, the BMC has offered to renew the turf club’s lease until 2053 and provide concessions such as building new stables and assisting with regulatory permissions. The reclaimed land will be used to construct a theme park and connect it with a coastal road garden,” reported Hindustan Times.  Around 120 acres of land will be handed over to the BMC for the theme park. 

Activists and experts have been protesting against this move as the race course is an important open space or green lung of the city. 

Source: Hindustan Times, The Indian Express 

Mumbai gets largest-ever BMC budget

The richest civic body in the country has a budget of Rs 59, 954.75 crore for the years 2024-25, largest so far. Iqbal Singh Chahal, the commissioner and administrator of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation presented the budget on Friday, with increased spending allocated for health and infrastructure among other areas.

BMC building
BMC commissioner presented the largest ever budget for the civic body with a focus on infrastructure spending and also proposed the idea of a ‘green budget.’ Pic: Mayur Thakara/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY:SA 2.)

“A total budgetary provision of Rs. 2,900 crore is proposed for the coastal road in this year’s budget against the budgetary provision of Rs.3,000 crore last year. For the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road, a budgetary provision of Rs.1,870 has been proposed against last year’s Rs.1,160 crore. Rs.3,200 crore has been proposed for roads and highways against Rs.2,561.98 crore last year. A budgetary provision for Mumbai Coastal Road (Versova Interchange to Dahisar Interchange) and GMLR connector has been proposed at Rs.2,960 crore against Rs.2,774.20 crore last year. The health budget is pegged at Rs.1716.85 crore against Rs.1384.04 crore last year. For education, Rs.3497.82 crore has been proposed and Rs.1,930 crore for the beautification work,” reported Hindustan Times.

On the backdrop of increasing air pollution in Mumbai, the budget has allocation of funds of the existing measures such as developing gardens, washing of roads and so on. The ‘Green Budget Book’ which will be presented later, will have details of measures for pollution and other green initiatives in detail.

Source: Hindustan Times, The Times of India

Read more: Here’s where your money goes. An explainer on BMC’s budget

Coastal road to open this month partially

Soon after the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link road was opened to traffic, another major transport project, the Coastal Road, is likely to be operational this month. Reports in several newspapers indicate that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will open the coastal road to traffic partially in a couple of weeks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to inaugurate it on February 19.

“The coastal road connecting Bandra Worli Sea Link to Marine Drive is a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) project. The portion of the four-lane road going south would also feature the country’s first undersea tunnel of 2.072 km. According to the people, more than 84% of the major works on the 10.58 km-long project have been completed, and the rest will be finished by its deadline in May,” reported Hindustan Times.

Source: The Times of India, Hindustan Times

Mumbaikars observe fast for missing roads

On the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, on January 30th, a group of citizens from Mumbai March, assembled at various locations for Satyagraha to raise the issue of ‘missing roads’ in the city. A campaign titled “Laapata Sadak,” that is roads that are missing, involves flagging the issue of roads that are mentioned in the older development plans but are either blocked, or not developed, or are simply not accessible to public for various reasons.

“We dispersed and positioned ourselves at these six locations. The Satyagraha protest was peaceful, devoid of slogans or shouting. We silently sat with the posters. Meanwhile, some volunteers were raising awareness by engaging in conversations with pedestrians. The objective was to raise awareness about the genuine factors contributing to Mumbai’s traffic problems and engage in discussions regarding potential solutions, including the completion of all missing links in the Development Plan,” Mid-day quoted Pankaj Trivedi from Mumbai March as saying.

The group has studied various locations in Mumbai and strongly believes that opening of these roads, that meant to be already existing, will solve the problem of traffic congestion to a significant extent.

Source: Mid-day

Investigation: Problematic MLA funds allocation in Mumbai

The Indian Express, in an exclusive investigation has revealed that the funds that can be allocated to MLAs for development works in Mumbai, were disbursed only to the MLAs of the rulling party and the opposition MLAs were left out. These funds were largely used for beautification purposes and other development activities. This data was gathered through RTI.

“Mumbai has 36 MLAs: 21 of the ruling BJP-Shinde Shiv Sena alliance, and 15 of the Opposition. Under a February 2023 policy that allows MLAs to seek funds from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for civic works, each of the 21 ruling alliance MLAs sought, and got, funds till December 2023, show official records obtained under the Right to Information Act and investigated by The Indian Express. In stark contrast, not one of the 15 Opposition MLAs (of the Uddhav Bal Thackeray Shiv Sena and Congress) got any money even though as many as 11 of them had asked for funds. The Indian Express spoke to each of the 15 Opposition MLAs to independently verify if they applied for funds, and if the Guardian Ministers approved it.”

There has been no explanation from the BMC about this revelation.

Source: The Indian Express

‘Mira Road demolitions were routine’

The Mira-Bhayander Municpal Corporation has said that the demolitions that took place were routine and were planned in advance. They said that the demolitions were not in response to the clashes that broke out on the day of the inauguration of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

DCP Jayant Bajbale told the Times of India that the MBMC had sought permission for the demolition of shops. The demolitions were carried out in police security. The area of Naya Nagar remained tense for several days with personnel from Rapid Action Force and heavy police presence. Schools and colleges were also closed. Community leaders appealed for peace.

Source: The Times of India

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